"The Philosophy of Humanism"
by Corliss Lamont
Corliss Lamont was a prolific writer. In his lifetime he authored, co-authored, and edited 22 books, wrote 29 pamphlets in what was known as the "Basic Pamphlets" series, and had literally hundreds of "Letters to the Editor" published in newspapers throughout the United States. A sample of these letters can be found today, preserved for posterity, on The New York Times on the Web.
His most famous, and by far most popular work, was a full-length book originally titled Humanism as a Philosophy, first published in 1949, and since translated into several languages. Over the years he revised the book six times, the last edition coming out in 1990, when he was 88 years of age. The book is considered to be the standard text on the subject of Humanism. The New York Times called it "Both readable and persuasive."
The following is taken from the 'Foreword to the Eighth Edition', by Beth K. Lamont:
It is appropriate for a philosophy that breaks the shackles of oppressive orthodoxy to be written in a language that is brave enough to shrug off these same shackles. In light of this liberation, feminists and many Humanists have pointed out the need for an eighth edition of The Philosophy of Humanism.
Until late into the twentieth century standards for scholarly works have required the use of a form of English that perpetuates a solely masculine orientation. This paternalistic tradition is still staunchly defended even by some women who otherwise consider themselves liberated, saying the matter of language is trivial and that of course it is understood that the word man means woman as well! To this assertion we answer, NONSENSE! Language influences thought. The word man brings to mind a male figure; the word human brings to mind an assortment of figures. The continuing struggles for equal rights and for social and economic justice make perfectly clear that even our cherished and exalted ideal about all men being created equal meant white, male land-owners and no one else!
When one's language consciousness has been raised, there's no going back to a previous innocence. Offensive and arrogant terms leap off the page and assault the senses. Likewise, when one's Humanist consciousness has been raised, there's no going back.
The original gender-free manuscript for the Eighth Edition was prepared for use in a course on Humanism taught by Beverley Earles at Mead Theological Seminary in 1992.
Here is a little vignette regarding this Eighth Edition, taken from the 'Introduction to the Eighth Edition', by Beverley Earles and Beth K. Lamont:
Knowing Corliss Lamont to be a strong champion of equality of the sexes, we appealed to him for his approval of a gender-free version of The Philosophy of Humanism. He resisted, saying, "Everyone knows that man includes woman." We read to him almost a whole chapter replacing all masculine references with woman, she, womankind, and so on. He listened intently with furrowed brow, looking more grim than usual, but his laughing eyes gave him away. With his customary throat-clearing "hrumph," which always preceded an important statement, he gave us his gracious approval, thus:
"Well, it's not written in stone, you know. The Philosophy of Humanism is intended to be a living document." Yes, thank you, dear Corliss; it will live forever!
And thus, the Eighth Edition was born!
It was published in April 1997 (Second Printing, March 2001) by Humanist Press, a division of the American Humanist Association. The print edition is ISBN 0-931779-07-3. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number is 96-77244.
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